Review by David Brickman
If you think an exhibition of work by an early-20th-century illustrator with broad commercial appeal is not to be taken seriously, think again. “Maxfield Parrish: Art of Light and Illusion,” on view at Cooperstown’s Fenimore Art Museum through September 7, is a knockout.
Maxfield Parrish was the most popular and highest paid commercial artist of his time and, judging from the art, artifacts and facts on display here, he earned it. While skill alone never makes great art, it can’t hurt – and Parrish had enough skill for 10 great artists. Initially educated through his artist father’s tutelage and a seminal two-year European sojourn as a teen, Parrish first took an architecture degree, then went to study under Howard Pyle, himself a memorable illustrator of the day, before embarking on a career that revolutionized the field of commercial art reproduction.